By Eloise Horsfield
A HUGE row has blown up after a mayor apparently blamed foreigners and ‘ecologists’ for a backlash against a scheme to build a gigantic housing complex on a virgin beach.
Tarifa’s mayor found himself in a giant storm after making the obscene remarks to a journalist.
Furious that a huge petition of over 80,000 names was opposing the project, PP mayor Juan Andres Gil told Adela Gama, of El Confidencial: “What Tarifa needs is more work and fewer guiris (foreigners).”
He then added: “To hell with the ecologists.”
The row came after he was publicly grilled following a 15-minute speech about why the development, near stunning Valdevaqueros Beach, was positive for the town.
He insisted that the 84,000 square metre scheme (see diagram below) to build 350 apartments and a 1,400 room hotel complex – passed by the town hall last week – would bring necessary investment and jobs to Tarifa.
However, not everyone agreed with him, with local politicians and environmentalists insisting the project was a ‘barbarity’ and ‘completely unsustainable’.
So concerned are the local IU and Equo party, led by former Greenpeace boss Juan Lopez de Uralde, that in just a few weeks, the petition has grown fast and an appeal has been made to Brussels.
“This has only just started,” said Lopez de Uralde. “There is still much that can be done to avoid bricking over the unspoilt Valdevaqueros beach.
“The economy of speculation has led us into the pit where we are now and these same recipes are not going to get us out of it.
“These schemes merely make some people richer while ruining the landscape and heritage for everyone else.”
One local British businessman, who asked not to named for fear of repercussions from the town hall, told the Olive Press: “Local people have been anti-foreigner for a while.
“And on this development? Well some of us are completely against and some are just concerned about its location.
“Perhaps if it was in the town and not on its own in a green location it would have been OK.”
Another local, estate agent Tony Cassidy, said that while he could ‘see the need for it’, he added:
“There are other places it could be built in the town.”
Irish expat Raphael Doyle, who lives in nearby Vejer, summed up the development well.
Labelling it as ‘short-termism’, he said: “It is the human response to insecurity, greed and elections.
“All we can do if we love nature is say ‘no’. Stop, look and see what you will lose. And keep saying it.”
He was also upset with the use of the word ‘guiri’ during a public speech.
“The use of the word is unfortunate. We need our politicians to exercise thoughtfulness and to resist the temptation to slip into facile, populist prejudices.
“The Spanish people are better and deserve better than that.”
Meanwhile a spokesman for the Junta’s Environment department insisted that they were ‘monitoring the situation closely’.
To sign the petition visit http://tinyurl.com/bp3pxgu and visit ‘Salvemos Valdevaqueros’ on Facebook.